The annual Big Blue Madness showcase for Kentucky basketball has become synonymous with the entertainment provided by women’s coach Matthew Mitchell, whose musical numbers never fail to delight the Rupp Arena crowd.
This time around, Mitchell’s audience will include one of the Wildcats’ top recruiting targets in years.
Treasure Hunt — a five-star player from Chattanooga, Tenn. — is scheduled to be in Lexington next weekend for her official visit to UK, a trip planned around Big Blue Madness, marking one final opportunity for Mitchell and his coaching staff to make a winning impression.
The player’s mother and coach, Keisha Hunt, said they’re particularly looking forward to seeing what dance moves Mitchell breaks out this time, but, for the most part, this will be a serious trip with serious implications.
Hunt is one of the best high school basketball players in the country. Kentucky is one of her five finalists. And UK’s coaches would love nothing more than to add her to their 2020 class.
“She’s looking to see how she’ll fit in and the style of play. And she’s really excited about being developed even further,” Keisha Hunt told the Herald-Leader this week. “She’s still got one more year in high school, but she’s already got senioritis. She’s ready to get on that next level and keep learning and working hard. So, basically, just see how she can fit in and watch the chemistry of the team as she spends time with them and gets to see them practice.
“She wants to make a good decision — this is the next four years of her life.”
Hunt has already taken official visits to South Carolina and Auburn, and she’ll be on Baylor’s campus for an official visit this weekend, then the trip to Lexington, and then one final official visit to Mississippi State the weekend after that.
One of those five programs is going to get an elite talent with considerable upside.
Bret McCormick, who runs the All Star Girls Report recruiting service, ranks Hunt as the No. 10 overall prospect in the 2020 class.
“There’s no reason Treasure can’t be a pro,” McCormick told the Herald-Leader. “She’s already got a great body — great size — and she’s always been skilled. … She’s a good athlete. Her three-point shot has gotten a lot better — she has a deep range, and that will continue to get better. She can play multiple positions, probably the ‘2’ the ‘3’ and the ‘4’. She’s a matchup problem.”
Hunt — listed as a 6-foot-2 wing — has spent all year proving herself as one of the nation’s best.
It started in April, when she and three of her Under Armour-affiliated FBC United teammates won the USA Basketball 3-on-3 tournament, defeating a squad that consisted of Haley Jones (the No. 1 player in the 2019 class), Paige Bueckers (the No. 1 player in the 2020 class) and two more top-10 national recruits.
Hunt helped lead her FBC United travel team to an undefeated run and league championship in the inaugural season of the Under Armour circuit. She was one of just seven girls invited to the Steph Curry Camp in August, and she’s played — and excelled — in several other high-profile events throughout the summer.
“Treasure has a very high ceiling,” her mother said. “She already has a college-ready body, and I know that she’ll get even faster and stronger in college. She’s a triple-threat scorer on offense. She shoots the three really well. She also drives well and can get to the rim. And with her being an oversized guard, she also knows post moves and can post people up if there’s a mismatch.”
One of her former teammates is UK sophomore Rhyne Howard, who led the Cats in scoring and rebounding last season on the way to national freshman of the year honors.
Keisha Hunt, who also coached Howard before she came to UK, said her presence in the Wildcats’ program can only help Kentucky’s chances of landing her daughter. Treasure Hunt is two grades younger than Howard, but they were teammates in travel ball.
“She thinks of Rhyne as like her older sister,” Keisha Hunt said. “She’s looking for a place that she feels comfortable at — feels like family — but will push her hard and develop her. Push her hard on the court but love her off the court. That’s the main thing that she’s looking for: a good, comfortable fit that will be challenging, too.”
Hunt also came to Madness last year on an unofficial visit, but this will be her mother’s first time at the event.
After their final recruiting visit to Mississippi State later this month, Hunt will weigh her options. The one-week early signing period ends Nov. 20. By then, Hunt’s decision will likely be made.
“By the end of October, she should be ready to decide where her home for the next four years is going to be,” said her mother. “She’s not going to rush it if she’s not sure, but I don’t see why she wouldn’t be after the visits. It’s time.”